Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each and every one of us are meant to do what we can as Christians, having been given various talents and gifts, blessings and graces by the Lord. Each and every one of us are therefore expected to make good use of those gifts of the Lord and be fruitful in the grace of God, bearing the rich fruits of our actions and commitments in life, in accordance to what each one of us have been called to do as Christians. All of us are reminded today of this calling, and we should embrace the Lord’s calling wholeheartedly.
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, we heard about the matter of the gifts that God had given to His disciples, to the Apostles and the others who have given themselves to the service of God. The Lord has granted them all the gifts and the blessings, the opportunities and the abilities to do His will, and gave them each a mission to fulfil in their lives. St. Paul therefore wanted to remind the faithful in Ephesus of their calling and mission in life, on the significance of them being Christians, as followers of the Lord. The Lord has called on all of them to be the members and parts of His Church, His one united Body, made up of all the different various parts, all the different peoples of different origins and background.
The Church of God is made up of all these people and parts, each one of them with their own talents and capabilities, with their own missions and responsibilities. For example, as mentioned, the Lord called and gave the gifts and entrusted some with their responsibility as Apostles, some others as missionaries and teachers, while some others were entrusted to be evangelists and preachers, while others were called to be involved in building good and faithful Christian families, to be good fathers, mothers, children and other members of the Christian community, as parts of the same united Body of Christ, the Church.
At that time the Church and the Christian communities in the various parts of the Mediterranean and elsewhere were still in their early stages, as the Apostles and the other missionaries spread the Good News and the Christian faith to various parts of the world, proclaiming the truth of God courageously despite the many challenges that they had to face. The Lord has sent His disciples to those places, revealing His truth and salvation to all the people of all the nations. That is why, the Lord wants us all to remember how all of us have the same mission that He has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples, and thus, we have to make good use of the gifts and talents given to us. We can neither be idle or ignore our calling and mission.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord telling His disciples that all those people who had suffered due to the riot in Galilee and the collapse of the tower in Siloah had met their end, and while it was not due to any fault of theirs, but the Lord highlighted to them all, that unless they changed their ways and actions, then they would face the end in the same manner as those who had perished experienced. He used this example to highlight how all of our actions and works, our beliefs and faith truly matter as they all determine whether we are going to be worthy of the Lord, or whether our actions and lives will condemn us at the Day of Judgment. The choice and opportunities have been given to us, and now therefore it is up to us whether we will act on it or not.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that as Christians, as members of the Church of God, all of us like that of the Apostles and the early Christians, are all the same disciples of the Lord, and we all share the same calling and mission which the Lord had given and entrusted to us through His same Church. Each one of us have been given the gifts and talents, and the various capabilities and opportunities, for us to reach out to more and more of our fellow men, and proclaim the truth of God through our own exemplary lives and actions. We do not have to perform amazing and wonderful things, as in truth, what really matters is for us to do whatever we can, in our own small little ways, to do the will of God, and to follow His path, at all times.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great recent saint, whose name and memories must be familiar to so many among us both young and old, as he was the leader of the Universal Church as the Successor of St. Peter, the Pope and Bishop of Rome. Pope St. John Paul II, also known by his birth name as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, the first Polish Pope and non-Italian Pope after close to five hundred years. Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in Poland after the First World War to a loving family, but unfortunately, he lost his family members one by one, beginning with his mother, then his elder brother and finally his father, during the harsh early years of the Second World War.
The young Karol Wojtyla suffered hardships during the war years, and during that time, he went through discreet seminary preparation as he committed himself to priesthood. He was ordained a priest, and then went through another hard period of oppression of Christians by the Communists, who were in power at that time. Christians were persecuted and oppressed, but Fr. Wojtyla cared for the needs of his flock, and this quiet obedience and commitment to the Lord eventually led to him being chosen as first the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and then succeeding as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow, and from there on, his participation as a leader of the Church continued to rise on.
After being made a Cardinal by the Pope, the then Cardinal Wojtyla continued to fight for the rights of the Christians in his homeland, in Krakow and elsewhere, and he was particularly remembered for his period of struggle against the Communist government, as he led the faithful in the effort to establish a church in the new town of Nowa Huta, which the Communist government had touted back then as a churchless town, in a seeming symbol of triumph of Communism over the Christian faith. Cardinal Wojtyla helped to lead the campaign which eventually led to the completion of the church and shrine at Nowa Huta of the now famous Black Madonna of Nowa Huta.
He was then elected as the successor of St. Peter as the Pope and leader of the Universal Church. As Pope St. John Paul II, he led the Church on a great campaign of renewal, in leading the Church through efforts to evangelise to many more people, to lead to the greater unity within the Church, the repair of relations between the separated brethren among the Christian Church splinters, as well as in his great and memorable role in leading to the downfall of Communism, which happened just over a decade after he took over as the Pope and leader of the Church. He travelled to many countries, more than any Popes ever before and ever since until today, and as the Apostles long before his time and ours, Pope St. John Paul II continued to carry on the mission entrusted to the Church of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the intercession of Pope St. John Paul II and the many other saints who are our good role models, including that of the Apostles and the other disciples themselves, and let us ask all of them to pray for us, that God may strengthen us in our missionary journey, in whatever we do as members of the same Church of God, for our current Pope, Francis, the Cardinals and the Archbishops and Bishops all throughout the Church, all the priest and deacons, and everyone in the religious orders, brothers and sisters, and of course all those among the laity, in their various capacities and workplaces, as fathers, mothers and children, as members of the living Church of God.
Let us all do our best to obey the will of God and commit ourselves anew to the Lord from now on, resolving to follow the path that God has shown before us. May the Lord continue to guide us all and be with us always, and may He empower each and every one of us with the strength and the grace to remain faithful to Him despite the challenges and trials that we may have to face in our journey of faith through our respective lives. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.